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Servant Leadership Weaves Through Military, Classroom, Animal Clinic for Eckerd Management Professor Frank Hamilton

posted on 02/18/2013

By Mary Ellen Collins

Frank Hamilton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management, joined the faculty at Eckerd College in 2004 after spending 22 years traveling the world as an officer in the U.S. Army serving in a variety of leadership positions including at the Pentagon. After retiring, he founded his own business. Later, Frank and his wife started a high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic focusing on the ending of companion animal euthanasia in Hillsborough County, Fla. February is National Spay/Neuter Awareness Month.

Animal Coalition of Tampa puppies

Frank HamiltonEckerd College Management professor Frank Hamilton says that when he stumbled on the term 'servant leadership' in graduate school, he thought, "This is me. This describes my core values." Robert Greenleaf, founder of the servant leadership movement, explained that "it begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then, conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead."  Dr. Hamilton has embodied servant leadership throughout his military career, teaching career, and his effort to reduce the incidence of companion animal euthanasia.

"As a child, I watched my father help run the church and work with the Boy Scouts and my mother volunteer at the church," he says. "They never said, 'you need to give to the community' – they role modeled it. When I went into the army, it was a twofer – a way to serve, and to do something I really wanted to do."

Although he flunked out of Kent State during freshman year, he "talked his way back in," and switched his major from architecture to history and psychology. He planned to go into the army for two years before becoming a history teacher.

Two years turned into twenty-two years traveling the world, during which he commanded bomb disposal detachments; taught ROTC; and got a master's degree in administration at USC. His career culminated with a position in the Office of the Secretary of the Army, where he oversaw projects related to operational, strategic and fiscal planning.

After retiring from the military, Dr. Hamilton opened an Employee Leasing Company that handled human resources and benefit functions for businesses, but tired of that after a year and half. So, he went to USF for a Ph.D. in business administration with a focus on leadership.

"When I came on the market, Eckerd was looking," he says. "I had to decide between consulting and teaching, and I fell in love with Eckerd. I teach the people side of management – principles of management, operations management, and organizational behavior. … I tell my students that I learned how to lead from the Army and in business. The Ph.D. taught me the why of what I was doing while I was leading."

While still enjoying his time in the classroom, the commitment to service has led him in a completely different direction. In the mid-90's his wife began volunteering for an animal rescue agency, and Professor Hamilton eventually started to volunteer alongside her. 

Animal Coalition of Tampa van

"The agency had 350 animals adopted in a year, and we thought that was great," he says. "Then we learned that Hillsborough County killed 350 animals in the first four days of the year, and we realized that what we were doing made us feel good – but it wasn't solving the problem." The couple founded a spay/neuter organization in 2001 and spent four years borrowing clinics in which to sterilize community cats, but they decided they still weren't doing enough. So in 2006, they opened their own high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic – the Animal Coalition of Tampa Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic.

Animal Coalition of Tampa clinic lobby"Because I'm a business guy and I've been trained in numbers, if I want to see where I'm going, I look at the numbers," he says. "Since 2006, we have spayed or neutered 66,000 animals and in Hillsborough County, there's been a 55% reduction in animal euthanasia. We are part of that solution. Affordability and accessibility are the two big issues. I had someone say they went to a vet clinic and it was going to cost $400 for a neuter. We do a cat for $40 and dogs by weight – up to $115. We also do shots and microchips. The focus is on keeping the animals in the home."

In a professional life that has taken him from Germany to Turkey to Washington D.C. to Tampa, from preparing for war to the classroom to the clinic – he has consistently demonstrated an effective strategy for success – combining the instinct to serve with the capacity to lead.

This feature is the fourth in a series of profiles of Eckerd alumni, faculty and staff who embody Eckerd's longstanding culture of service through their livelihoods and/or their volunteer activities. Through speaker presentations, campus initiatives and these profiles, Eckerd College's 2012-2013 Presidential Events Series, "Cultivating Service: People, Politics Planet," demonstrate that service for the greater good can be achieved through scientific research, civil and public servant leadership, environmental protection, social justice action and commentary, foreign diplomacy, time in the armed forces, pro bono legal counsel and hands-on projects.

Read Previous Service Profiles:
Steve Kornell '95
Francine Haig-Jones '00
Darden Rice '00

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